Northbrook: This place is on a roll
North suburb has right mix of amenities for business, pleasure
Bicyclists race at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook. The track attracts top cyclists from the Midwest. (John Handley/Photo for the Chicago Tribune)
That's because this northern suburb has a lofty hill with panoramic views in all directions. The peak is covered with the metro area's top golf course -- in elevation, that is. The nine-hole Willowhill course was built on a former landfill that rises some 100 feet above the surrounding terrain.
This is just one of Northbrook's three courses, but the village scores highly in much more than golf.
Jeff Samuels, a custom home builder with offices in Northbrook, summed up the appeal of the village: "It has terrific schools and parks, plus great transportation."
The quality of Northbrook schools attracted Stephanie and John Goldcamp to town. After living in Chicago for 10 years, the couple moved to Northbrook in 2004 after starting a family.
"I grew up in Northbrook and attended Glenbrook North High School. I felt that gave me a leg up when I went to college," said Stephanie Goldcamp.
Northbrook is a commuter's dream, with the Edens Expressway on the east, the Tri-State Tollway on the west and Metra's Milwaukee North Line train running through the heart of the village. O'Hare International Airport is typically less than a half-hour drive.
Along with a convenient location, the village prides itself on a sense of community.
One of Northbrook's biggest boosters is Ron Bernardi, a 43-year resident and the long-time manager of Sunset Foods. He noted that "a lot of kids move back to the village because they liked their experience growing up here."
Bernardi owns a 1915 Model T Ford and a popcorn wagon that he rolls out for special events, such as the recent Shermerfest at the Village Green that celebrates the village's history.
The Village Green, in the heart of town, is the leafy stage for many celebrations, including concerts, art fairs and the annual Northbrook Days carnival. Also here is a 19th Century tavern that now houses a historical museum.
The Village Green is just one of Northbrook's 19 parks.
"We have the amenities of a big park system but only 34,000 residents to serve," said Rick Hanetho, executive director of the Northbrook Park District.
Those amenities include the Ed Rudolph Velodrome banked cycling track, two indoor ice skating rinks, two sledding hills, golf courses, two swimming pools, 24 tennis courts, 15 soccer fields, 25 baseball diamonds, 17 playgrounds and a skateboard park.
According to Hanetho, a recent survey by the park district showed that 86 percent of residents visited a Northbrook park in the last year, 14 percent higher than the national average.
Northbrook also has a show-biz side.
Jack Coombe, a 48-year resident, co-hosts the local cable television show "Talk Around Town" with Susan Carrington.
"Northbrook always has been friendly, but when we moved here in 1961, it was like a little village," said Coombe, 87. Since those early years, he and his wife, Peg, have watched Northbrook expand into an urbanized suburb.
In the last 15 years on NCTV, he has interviewed most of the village's movers and shakers. One of the most memorable was actor Joe Mantegna , whose brother, Ron, lives in town.